MIDDLESEX COUNTY, NJ - The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has awarded Coming Home of Middlesex County, Inc. (Coming Home), a nonprofit organization and the County’s single, coordinating entity for ending homelessness, with a onetime grant to facilitate and support the employment of the Housing First method in Middlesex County. The grant is a major opportunity for providing some of the most vulnerable people in the County with a place to call home and the healthcare and other services they need as they start down the path to independence.

Housing First is an evidence-based and cost-effective program that provides stable housing and supportive services to homeless people who may otherwise cycle through expensive emergency rooms, shelters, jails or psychiatric hospitals. Pursuant to Housing First, the first order of business in addressing a person’s homelessness is to provide the person a home. The second order of business is to assist the newly housed persons meet their individualized plan for self-sufficiency by offering needed assistance and connections to community-based health social services. These efforts enable them to sustain their newfound housing.

The $100,000 grant from the Foundation will allow Coming Home, in conjunction with a collaborative of social service providers in the County, to implement a “Coordinated Assessment.” This assessment will prioritize people experiencing homelessness for available assistance, based on vulnerability and the severity of service needs, to ensure that people, who need assistance the most, can receive it in a timely manner.  The coordinated and concerted approach aims to minimize the time anyone experiences a housing crisis.

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After the Coordinated Assessment is underway, Coming Home will leverage the program to pilot a community-based case management program for persons who are newly housed in the community. Coming Home has designed such a program, in conjunction with case managers of the collaborating social service providers, to fill the essential role of assisting persons sustain their new tenancies and enjoy the comfort of stable housing. If the program is successful as anticipated, Coming Home will work on raising funds for the continuation of the case management program past the one-year covered by the grant and Middlesex County has agreed to help support this program if needed.

“The resources offered by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the support of Middlesex County has given us an opportunity to launch a pioneering program,” said Eileen O’Donnell, Executive Director of Coming Home. “This collaborative effort will break down silos between the healthcare sector and efforts to combat homelessness and brings us closer to our goal of eliminating homelessness in Middlesex County.”